Eels relishing hostile derby with Panthers

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Bring on the hate. That's the message from Parramatta as the Eels steel themselves for a hostile NRL derby with Penrith on Friday night.

The Eels are not expecting a let-up from the undefeated premiers as they head to BlueBet Stadium licking their wounds from a 35-4 loss to North Queensland in Darwin.

Nor do they want any.

"There's a lot of hatred from the fans. I think it's a sellout there tomorrow and so our boys know they're going to cop it but it's all part of the game," Eels coach Brad Arthur said on Thursday.

"It's all part of the theatre and that's what it's about.

"It makes for a really good clash and I'm sure both teams are going to rip into each other and hopefully it comes down to the 80th minute."

That's how it turned out in last year's semi-final when Penrith ended Parramatta's season with an 8-6 escape in Mackay.

Arthur is hoping his side doesn't use that crushing defeat as motivation for the return bout.

"It shouldn't have to be. Last week should be our motivation," he said.

"The fact that we're playing against a good team should be our motivation.

"Playing the good teams is why you play and where you build your resilience from and learn about your team and their character."

In reality, Penrith, who welcome back Brian To'o and Moses Leota, are much more than a good team.

They are the first side in more than a century to open successive seasons with eight consecutive wins and are unbeaten in their last 21 games at home.

"So it's an opportunity," Arthur said.

"But it's more an opportunity to see what we're about and what response we get out of ourselves.

"I know we are hurting and there's a bit of pride on the line so, while the results are important every week, it's how you play as well.

"We just need to be consistent in every moment of the game; from every set in every game.

"When we can do that, that will lead to being able to do it from week to week."

Parramatta slipped from third to fifth following their loss to the Cowboys and could potentially tumble out of the top eight with another heavy defeat on Friday night.

And the Eels' prospects certainly haven't been helped by the return of State of Origin star To'o from an ankle injury and his premiership-winning teammate and prop Leota from a shoulder complaint.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary confirmed the pair's inclusion on Thursday but won't reveal who they come in for until game day.

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